Inmate number 1027820 was released from Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada shortly after midnight Sunday. O. J. Simpson was “upbeat, personable, and seemed happy to get on with his life,” according to a prison official.
Simpson was convicted in 2008 of masterminding a bungled robbery of sports memorabilia and served nine years before being paroled. He still owes tens of millions of dollars following a 1997 civil lawsuit in which he was found liable for the wrongful deaths of Ronald Goldman and Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to their families.
While Simpson has been paroled, he must meet strict standards to stay out of prison. He will be required to meet regularly with a supervising parole officer and submit monthly reports. He will be barred from traveling outside the state of Nevada without obtaining written permission from his supervising officer.
Simpson will be subject to blood and breath tests for evidence of excessive consumption of alcohol and will need to notify his supervising officer immediately upon obtaining prescription drugs. He will be barred from possessing any kind of weapon and must avoid associating with persons with criminal records. And he must accept any reasonable cause searches of his body, car, and home, without a warrant and at any time of the day or night.
If Simpson violates any of the terms of his parole, he risks being ordered back to prison.
If you are among the majority of Americans (both black and white) who believe that Simpson murdered his ex-wife and her friend, you probably see these conditions as far less punishment than Simpson deserves. If you believe that he was innocent of murder, you may see his Nevada conviction and parole conditions as excessive and unfair.
Whatever your opinion of O. J. Simpson, consider two biblical principles relevant to his story.
One: Forgiveness does not erase consequences.
O. J. Simpson has reportedly “rediscovered his faith” in prison. Friends say he wants to become a television evangelist, though he is also reported to be studying the Qur’an.
I hope the reports of Simpson’s growing faith in Christ are true. But it is important whenever we consider God’s grace to remember that his forgiveness does not remove the consequences of our sins. Our Father forgives all we confess to him (1 John 1:9), but those we sin against still suffer as a result.
Two: God knows the truth and judges accordingly.
The Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5). There is no such thing as a “secret” sin with him. We may be unfairly accused by others or we may receive less punishment than our sins deserve, but our Lord is omniscient and “all his ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
Our Father calls us to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Leonard Ravenhill noted, “There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin.”
Which will you choose to be today?